The Carthage Central School District has a policy in place for students found to have head lice (pediculosis capitis). All socioeconomic groups are affected, and therefore every attempt is made to preserve confidentiality and dignity of a student found to have either a live louse/lice or their eggs (nits). To protect the student and the classroom environment, a child should be free of lice and their eggs (nits) to be allowed to attend school.
The primary clinical symptom of lice is itching of the scalp, back of the neck and behind the ears. This may be observed by the student, classroom personnel, or by the parent, with a referral to the School Nurse. Diagnosis of head lice is made by direct inspection of the hair and scalp for the presence of lice or nits. The student's hair is parted with wooden applicator sticks in a private area, usually in the Nurse's Office. The hair is observed for movement on or near the scalp indicating the presence of live lice and for nits on strands of hair. Wearing gloves is not necessary.
If a child is found to have live louse/lice, the parent should be notified immediately and the child sent home to begin treatment. If nits only are found and the student has not been treated, the student should be sent home to begin treatment. When the child is picked up by the parent, an Instruction Sheet is given to the parent and reviewed if necessary. In addition, instruct the family verbally that the key to interrupting transmission of infestation is attention to all areas of treatment.
- Kill lice using an approved pediculicide, correctly applied, following label instructions. Pediculicides are not as effective in killing eggs; treatment should be repeated in 7-10 days to kill any newly hatched lice. Permethrin 1% is currently the recommended treatment.
- Remove nits after shampooing. The hair should always be wet combed - a fine toothcomb or a special lice comb can be used to remove nits. In many cases, manual removal of nits (pulling nits from hair shaft with fingers) is necessary.
- Treat environment: machine wash all clothing, bedding, towels and linen on hot cycle and dry using hot cycle of the dryer. Personal articles of clothing or bedding in addition to stuffed animals may be placed in a plastic bag and sealed for a period of 2 weeks. For combs and brushes, soak for one hour in a 2% Lysol solution or heat them in a pan of water for 5-10 minutes.
When the above steps have been completed, the student must be brought to school by a parent or designee. After the child's hair has been examined and it has been ascertained that the above steps for treatment and prevention of infestation have been carried out, the child may return to class. The child is then checked periodically over the course of two weeks to ensure that complete removal of nits is taking place by the parent. If these steps are not being carried out, the child is returned home with the parent until all nits are removed.
Nit removal is tedious and often cannot be accomplished in one sitting. Therefore, the School Nurse may use their professional judgment to allow a student who does not have ALL nits removed to remain in school. They must ascertain that the parent has accomplished the necessary home treatment for the child and environment, has demonstrated a sincere effort to have removed the nits, and will continue on a daily basis combing until all nits are removed.
To Parents: If your child comes home with head lice, don’t panic. Millions of school children contract head lice each year. Children play in close contact with each other. A simple exchange of hats, clothing, brushes, combs, and other personal articles can result in transmission of head lice from one child to another. Lice can be easily and effectively treated. You should ask your pharmacist for an effective head lice shampoo or ask your doctor for advice.
- Check all members of the family for lice and their eggs. Lice are small grayish-tan wingless insects. Lice lay eggs called nits.
- Nits are firmly attached to the hair shafts, close to the scalp and are much easier to see than live lice. They are small white specks which are usually found at the nape of the neck and behind the ears.
- Apply the lice treatment to all infested family members, following instructions carefully.
- After shampooing, remove the nits with a fine tooth comb (nit combs come with some head lice shampoos). Application of warm water with vinegar (1:1) or clear warm water may help nit removal. Nits may need to be removed by using your fingernails or tweezers.
- Use hot water and detergent to wash sheets, pillowcases and clothing (at least 20 minutes).
- Hot dry or dry clean blankets, bedspreads, hats, and sleeping bags; or seal in a plastic trash bag for at least two weeks.
- Soak combs and brushes, head bands and barrettes in the treatment shampoo or hot water for at least 10 minutes or wash in dishwasher.
- Thoroughly vacuum carpets, upholstery, pillows, and mattresses and discard vacuum cleaner bag.
- Bike helmets, head phones, stuffed animals should be placed in a plastic bag and tied for 10 days.
- Remember to retreat in 7 days.
- Students sent home with nits or lice must be brought back into school to be checked by the school nurse before being allowed to return to class.
Find more information here: CDC-Head Lice Fact Sheet